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Ten to Go: Beat Old Man Winter

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None of us have to be reminded which season it is or how cold it is outdoors.

But we should remind ourselves that all is not lost in this epic battle against Old Man Winter. In fact, our health depends on fighting the good fight.

It’s well documented that weather has a profound effect on human health and wellness. This time of year typically features outbreaks of pneumonia, influenza, bronchitis and even death related to the cold.

But there are some less-documented effects of winter weather that take just as big a toll. Weather dramatically affects our mood and brings about other physiological changes. If you’re experiencing a sluggish feeling these days, you’re not alone. Depression is one of the main malfunctions caused by lack of sunlight.

Sun is our most crucial source of vitamin D and the lack of vitamin D can increase the risk of depression.

Exercise

Cold  weather saps our energy. When you’re cold, your blood vessels constrict to trap heat inside. This constricts blood circulation and oxygen distribution.

In other words, being proactive with exercise during this time of year is critical. Dancing, jumping rope, jogging in place and other light-impact exercises daily increase serotonin, which is a huge anti-depressant. Even light exercise such as yoga and stretching can make a big difference.

Eat

Katherine Farrell

Katherine Farrell

The third component to keep winter in check is diet. You can combat the weather by eating more omega-3 fatty acids and uridine, substances found in fish, walnuts, molasses and sugar beets, to name a few. Here’s something from Katherine’s Catering to get you started:

Our Moroccan Chicken dish appears in the Autumn in Morocco menu at Katherine’s Catering. We serve it with warmed couscous, lentil tomato salad, carrot raisin salad with sunflower seeds and coriander yogurt dressing. It’s healthy, hearty and packed with flavor and color. If you’re not a couscous fan, cook up a brown rice lentil pilaf and steam some haricots verts (green beans, for us Neanderthals) tossed in olive oil and sautéed leeks. If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers the next day, chop up the chicken, add some olive oil mayonnaise, lemon juice, cooked brown rice, toasted curry powder and chopped granny smith apples for a delicious main course salad-served on a bed of leafy greens.

KCI_MoroccanChicken2Moroccan Chicken

8 boneless chicken breasts (boneless thighs can also be used)

Marinade       
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2  lemons, zested and juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves

Marinate chicken in olive oil, lemon juice and zest, garlic, onion and bay leaves 2-4 hours in refrigerator.

Sauce
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon saffron
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup dried cranberries — divided
  • 1 cup dried apricots, sliced — divided
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions

Heat olive oil in sauce pan, and sauté onion and garlic 2-3 minutes.  Add coconut milk, cinnamon sticks, coriander, cardamom, curry powder and chicken broth. Reduce over medium to yield about 2 cups of sauce.  Strain sauce, and add 1/2 cup dried cranberries and 1/2 cup dried apricots then salt and pepper to taste.  Keep sauce warm.  Heat your grill, and grill marinated chicken over medium heat, turning once to create nice grill marks. When chicken is fully cooked, ladle sauce over chicken, and finish with remaining cranberries, apricots, fresh cilantro and sliced almonds.

Demond Johnson

The author, Demond Johnson, is a retired combat veteran who coordinated the U.S. Army’s Weight Control Program. He owns A2 Fitness Professionals. Contact him at demond@a2fitnesspro.com or 734-222-5080.

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